Swimming at beaches is often many people’s favourite water activities in Cape Town. Beyond these popular tourist spots, lie the Capes’s best-kept secrets—enigmatic and secluded swimming holes waiting to be discovered. Let’s start the exploration of seven secret places to swim in and around Cape Town. From cascading waterfalls hidden in lush forests to secluded rivers in Cape Town, each of these locations promises an unforgettable water adventure. Whether you’re an explorer seeking off-the-beaten-path experiences or a local looking for new hidden gems, join us on this journey to unearth the clandestine beauty of Cape Town’s best swimming spots.
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Krom River 🌊
The Krom River hike within Limietberg Nature Reserve is a trek that immediately captivates with its stunning views. Tracing the river’s course through the valley, the trail treats hikers to awe-inspiring panoramas of neighbouring mountain peaks. As the path ascends into the kloof, a mesmerizing indigenous riverine forest enchants passersby. Along the way, numerous swimming spots can be found, with the final two pools offering exceptional rewards for extra excitement.
In the beauty, you can find an array of frogs and toads concealed within the water, to glimpses of fish darting through the pools. Birds of prey soar overhead, while smaller avian species flit nearby. The landscape transitions from indigenous mountain fynbos to lush riverine forest in the kloof’s more humid zones. Essential for this adventure are your swimsuit, sunscreen, and sturdy hiking boots. Remember to secure a permit, obtainable at Cape Nature, as they are limited in availability but indispensable for this unforgettable excursion into the heart of nature’s splendour.
Opening Hours: Monday to Sunday from 8 am to 6 pm
Address: Limietberg Nature Reserve
Contact Number: 021 808 5121
York Dam at Boschendal 🥽
Dive into an exhilarating experience at York Dam located on Boschendal Farm. It has the perfect fusion of fitness and natural surroundings. Every Friday evening, weather permitting, Boschendal Farm invites you to partake in their open-water swim sessions at the York Dam. Presented by 3YO Training Camps, these sessions cater to swimmers of all proficiencies.
Join in the excitement by gathering at Gate 20 (Lanquedoc Gate) by 17h15 for a mandatory safety briefing. At 17h30, the swim commences, allowing you to immerse yourself in the beautiful farm landscape. This is more than a swim; it’s an opportunity to maintain an active lifestyle, revitalize your senses, and connect intimately with nature’s wonders.
Opening Hours for York Dam at Boschendal: Friday from 05:30 pm to 06:30 pm
Address: Boschendal Estate. Pniel Road, Groot Drakenstein, Franschhoek, Western Cape
Contact Number: 073 052 3770
Matroosberg Rock Pools 🪨
Go on a stroll along the well-marked jeep track leading from the Ski Hut towards the river, unveiling the hidden treasure of the Matroosberg Rock Pools. This easy-going route winds its way gently down into a kloof, offering an effortless walk amongst captivating natural scenery. The terrain remains pleasantly flat throughout, ensuring a relaxing excursion and a refreshing swim in the crystal-clear mountain waters.
Within minutes of walking, the initial pools come into view, tempting eager swimmers with their beauty. Yet, for the more adventurous souls seeking solitude, the option exists to venture deeper into the kloof, discovering secluded pockets of paradise—hidden, private pools, and cascading waterfalls awaiting discovery in this lovely landscape. Whether opting for a quick dip or a quest for secret sanctuaries, Matroosberg Rock Pools promises an idyllic escape into nature’s beauty.
Opening Hours for Matroosberg Rock Pools: Monday to Sunday from 8 am to 4 pm
Address: Matroosberg Reserve
Contact Number: 023 312 2282
Jonkershoek Nature Reserve 👟
Located 10km from Stellenbosch, at the end of Jonkershoek Road, here the Eerste River unfolds through a deep valley, creating so many wonderful rock pools. Amongst this splendour, fynbos decorate the land, highlighted by lively displays of watsonias along the hillside. Renowned among mountain biking enthusiasts, Jonkershoek presents an extensive network of jeep tracks and well-marked single-tracks, a paradise for riders. Whether trekking the trails or exploring on wheels, Jonkershoek Nature Reserve promises an immersive encounter with nature’s grandeur ending with a refreshing dip.
Opening Hours for Jonkershoek Nature Reserve: Monday to Sunday from 8 am to 4 pm
Address: Jonkershoek Road, Stellenbosch
Contact Number: 087 087 9262
The Silvermine Reservoir 🏊
The Silvermine Reservoir stands out as one of Cape Town’s best swimming pools, easily accessible and immensely popular among locals and visitors alike. Situated after a charming, brief boardwalk adjacent to Ou Kaapse Weg Road, this spot exudes convenience and scenic allure. A nominal entrance fee grants access, unlocking a realm where swimming, braai, picnicking, and hiking await.
The waters beckon swimmers seeking respite from the city’s heat, while the surrounding landscape invites leisurely picnics or adventurous hikes. Whether seeking relaxation or outdoor adventure, the Silvermine Nature Reserve offers a refreshing escape within easy reach of Cape Town, serving as an idyllic retreat for a day of aquatic joy or exploration amidst gorgeous surroundings.
Opening Hours for the Silvermine Nature Reserve: Monday to Sunday from 8 am to 6 pm
Address: Table Mountain National Park, Cape Town
Contact Number: 021 712 7471
Crystal Pools 🩳
Crystal Pools, situated near Gordon’s Bay, stands as a blend of hiking and water bliss in the Cape region. Upon arrival, an enchanting landscape awaits, with multiple pools, cascading waterfalls, and rocks ideal for exhilarating leaps. The sheer beauty of this place invites visitors to refreshing waters and indulge in the thrill of cliff jumping. However, it’s essential to secure a permit beforehand through the City of Cape Town website, ensuring access to this natural gem. Crystal Pools epitomizes the perfect fusion of adventure and natural beauty, offering an enchanting escape where hiking enthusiasts and water lovers can revel in the Cape’s beauty.
Opening Hours for the Crystal Pools: Monday to Friday from 9 am to 2 pm
Address: Kogelberg Nature Reserve
Contact Number: 087 087 9262
Breede River ⛵
The meandering beauty of the Breede River, traversing numerous Western Cape towns such as Worcester, Ceres, Swellendam, and Witsand before gracefully meeting the Indian Ocean, offers a myriad of swimming sanctuaries across its expansive 337-kilometer stretch. Amidst the various spots, the most enticing swimming oases reside within the confines of Bontebok National Park, located just beyond Swellendam. Located within this natural sanctuary, this Cape Town river unveils its finest swimming spots, inviting visitors to immerse themselves in its serene waters.
The idyllic setting, complemented by the park’s scenic landscapes, provides an ideal backdrop for a refreshing dip or a leisurely swim. Here, amidst nature, one can relish the calming embrace of the Breede River, appreciating its beauty and the sense of rejuvenation it offers, making it a must-visit destination for those seeking a soothing aquatic escape.
Opening Hours for Breede River at Bontebok National Park: Monday to Sunday from 7 am to 6 pm
Contact Number: 028 514 2735
From the beauty of the Krom River to the allure of York Dam at Boschendal, each of these swimming spots holds a unique charm and promises an escape from the ordinary. As much as warm beaches in Cape Town are a common attraction Cape Town rivers, dams and rock pools offer a unique experience, the Matroosberg Rock Pools’ surroundings, Jonkershoek Nature Reserve’s captivating trails, and the adventurous spirit of Crystal Pools all contribute to Cape Town’s beauty. Whether you’re seeking a refreshing water activity, embarking on an adventurous hike, or simply basking in the natural light, the secret swimming holes in Cape Town and around offer a momentary reprieve from urban life, inviting us to reconnect with the raw beauty that lies just beyond our doorstep.